Princess Royal opens Huntingdon Fire Service Training Centre
Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal was welcomed to the new Huntingdon Fire Station and Service Training Centre for a tour and to officially open the building with the unveiling of a plaque.
The Princess Royal was greeted by the Lord Lieutenant for Cambridgeshire, Mrs Julie Spence OBE QPM, and introduced to Fire Authority Chair Edna Murphy, Deputy Chief Executive for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) Matthew Warren and Assistant Chief Fire Officer Jon Anderson, among other civic representatives, before commencing a tour of the new fire station and CFRS’s training centre which is on the same site.
Her Royal Highness was guided on the tour by Group Commander Simon Thompson. First to meet HRH were employees from CFRS involved in the project as well as contractors Crofton Engineering who designed and built the fire training buildings.
The three-acre development consists of a fire station and its related support areas – overnight accommodation for those firefighters’ working nights, along with lecture rooms and supplementary changing facilities. There are also offices for support staff, such as the health and safety team, operational support group and occupational health team.
The training area was purpose-built and installed by Crofton Engineering who are one of the market leaders in the fabrication and installation of steel structures and specialist Fire Drill Products. The training area allows CFRS to create realistic training exercises, live fire training containers, areas to support incidents involving water and motor vehicles, and a four-storey training tower.
Fire Service Training Centre
The Main Training Building is 12 m2 and includes facilities to simulate Cold Smoke and LPG Fires. It is a compartment building which contains everything you would find in a residential or commercial building, including stairs, rooms, hallways, corridors, garages etc. Which allows for a multitude of applicable training scenarios. Cold Smoke as available in all rooms and on all floors but there is also a facility to control the smoke in each room independently, providing further flexibility.
The training centre also includes a training tower for rope rescue, rescue from heights and safe working at heights training. The training tower also includes capabilities for Aerial Ladder fire training and rescue and a lift shaft for various other difficult rescue scenarios.
Also on site, there are 3 real fire training buildings which include: the Compartmental Fire Behaviour Training Unit, the Fire Development Attack Training Unit, and a Real Fire Training Building over 3 floors. This includes scenarios for commercial units on the ground floor, Flats on the second floor and attic and loft space on the top floor.
With various windows, doors, corridors and floors the training instructors have a large amount of flexibility to alter all aspects of the fire development as they see fit, meaning that firefighters will never know the scenario in advance and will therefore be required to be able to adapt to whatever occurs during the exercise. This makes training far more effective, and far more applicable to the real world, in which scenarios will continually be unpredictable, with decisions having to be made differently for each specific situation.
The facilities are fully operational and prepared to accommodate a near-unlimited amount of training scenarios and possibilities. This excellent new facility will greatly improve operational training for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue services for many years to come with its future-proof, sustainable design, allowing current and trainee firefighters to develop to their maximum potential.
The Princess Royal was treated to three demonstrations by firefighters and training centre instructors showing rope rescue, road traffic collision and large animal rescue techniques. This included a horse rescue from a water-filled ditch to replicate the unique challenges Cambridgeshire firefighters face with the large number of waterways in the county.
CFRS Deputy Chief Executive Matthew Warren officially welcomed everyone and thanked all those involved in the building project for their hard work and perseverance, before inviting Her Royal Highness to unveil a commemorative plaque. As she did so, The Princess Royal expressed how much she had enjoyed her tour and meeting everyone involved.
Mr Warren said: “It was a perfect event to officially open our new replacement fire station in Huntingdon and the Service’s new training facility and an opportunity for us to properly thank everyone who has been involved in this project. So much time, effort and hard work has gone into this new build by so many people and it was fantastic to stand in front of everyone today and collectively thank them in person. Having Her Royal Highness with us to meet everyone, learn more about our fire and rescue service and unveil a commemorative plaque made it particularly special and something that everyone will remember and talk about for a long time.”
Councillor Edna Murphy, Chair of Fire Authority: “It was very special to be able to demonstrate the work of our fire and rescue service to Her Royal Highness Princess Anne. I know how long and how much the Service has wanted a new training facility that was fit for a modern-day fire and rescue service and so it is wonderful to see it complete and showcased today. I’d also like to thank everyone involved in the project for all their hard work.”
Group Commander Simon Thompson, who took HRH on the tour around the building: “It was a huge honour to lead Her Royal Highness around the fire station and talk to her about different aspects of the building and its use. She was very interested in the different roles people have who work at the station and it was great that we were able to showcase different aspects of the fire service to her such as our important community safety work, both wholetime and on-call response, our occupational health service and different professional support roles.”
Group Commander Vicky Best, Head of Training Centre, who showed HRH around the training facilities said: “We had three live demonstrations ongoing by firefighters and training instructors, showcasing their specialist skills in rope, road traffic collision and large animal rescue. HRH The Princess Royal was interested in how these skills helped in real life incidents and we were able to show her photos of actual animal rescues and road traffic collisions involving rescues from water, an increased risk in this county with the large number of waterways, particularly in the Fens. We were able to show how the new training facility includes a ditch we can practice in water rescues from.”
For more information visit Crofton Engineering.